020 Primitive Skills: How to Build Wilderness Survival Shelter

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Two Lean-To's facing each other

I show you one of my favorite primitive skills by explaining how to build a primitive wilderness survival shelter. Lean-to, A Frame, Debris, Hammock, etc.


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A-Frame Shelter

  • Cordage between 2 trees as the brace

  • A frame as center support

  • 2 A-Frames on each end and tied off at both ends

  • Poncho, Tarp, Emergency Blanket, Lashing boughs

Lean-To Shelter

  • Very quick

  • Usually not very warm

  • Some may be built for warmth

  • Ridge Lean to (looks like an L)

  • Dual Lean to


Debris Shelter

Primitive Skills: How to Build Wilderness Survival Shelter: Debris Shelter

  • A-frame on only one side

  • other side on ground

  • cross-members, then boughs of spruce/pine

  • then boughs of broadleaves, tarp or snow

Hammock Shelter

  • Great for hot dry climates

  • Hammocks

  • Tarps without the holes

  • Tarps with holes

Cave Style Snowdrift Shelter

  • Snowdrift, not cornice

    • rocks or sticks for locating it

  • Build Entrance

    • Away from wind

    • Archway

    • 2-3 ft deep

  • Transitional area

    • 2-3 feet further in

    • also dig up now

    • must keep above 18 in snow over this and den

  • Den

    • dome shapped

    • vent holes

    • shelves

    • bedding and drainage

Snow Trench

  • best on slope

  • dig trench 4-5 feet deep

    • Longer than body by a foot

  • sleeping area

    • foot above trench bottom

    • foot of head space in area


  • Pine and Spruce Boughs as bedding

    • Main loss of heat is through the ground

  • Snow (tarp)

  • How to insulate when in a hammock?

Ways to brace your cross-members

  • lash each cross-member in figure 8

  • weave through the cross-members… still must lash the end-members


  • Utility rope

  • Paracord

  • Vines

Important take aways:

  • Have a tarp, poncho, emergency blankets, lots of paracord

  • in snow always use your hands to finish off the snow

  • angle snow so you dont get dripped on all night

  • Always insulate on the ground

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Ken is addicted to fitness and mountain biking. He is such a thrill seeker, people are starting to be concerned!He enjoys MTBing, Hiking, Climbing, Geocaching, Orienteering, Weight Lifting, and Wilderness Survival.

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